Originally Published in New City
Loosely organized around formal parameters and an eponymous ink drawing by musician Sun Ra, this exhibition of paintings, prints and sculpture explores materials, space and the myriad permutations they assume in contemporary art. From digital printing to additive sculpture to oil on canvas, this stylistically wide-ranging show shifts direction and tone as boldly as Sun Ra changed directions in music.
Mark Flood’s colossal screen-printed oriental rug “Mansion” is bossy and domineering. Its acid-yellow hue aggressively burns deep into its forest-green ground. The print is overheated, and viewing it is like staring into the sun; it threatens to blind the viewer. Just as assertive but on a scale diametrically opposed to “Mansion” are a series of Christopher Wool’s black and red untitled monotypes. Like an assortment of fresh bruises, they’re as menacing as the painter’s large-scale work and hit with a force that belies their small size.
A trio of robust paintings by Rebecca Morris, Ellen Berkenblit and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung fill out the gallery’s south wall. Zuckerman-Hartung’s untitled blue-violet painting is playful and mischievous, featuring fragmentary peeks at arms, legs, hands and feet in comically elongated proportions. Berkenblit’s “Pink Trucks” exudes a mysterious, sooty quality that permeates a large black field that smothers the color forms underneath. Antithetical to Flood’s “Mansion,” the darkness of “Pink Trucks” pulls the viewer in with the promise of secrets partially revealed.
As with any group show, there are a few pieces that fail to resonate with the other works on display. Lui Shtini’s listless, surreal portrait “Spitter” and Josiah McElheny’s retouched photographs play it safe in a room full of aesthetic rogues and spatial acrobatics. A work of art is always more than accumulation of formal elements or historical developments, it’s a parallel universe that lives or dies by its capacity to provoke feeling within us. In this respect, the emotional pallet of the works in “Other Planes of There” is as rich and varied as the artists in the show.